Chairman's report - June 2008

In the April newsletter I mentioned that your committee members attended a public meeting in Fish Hoek for the unrolling of the City’s coastal development plan.

Muizenberg is identified as a growth hub, but with a “densification” policy to be followed. Rather than build on more and more land, the policy will favour high-rise development with 10-12 stories permitted, although not on the immediate beach front.

There were several Muizenberg champions at the meeting, who were unanimous in opposing the unrestricted growth of high –rise property. “We don’t want another Cinnabar, or a seafront such as Strand here.”

Councillor Qually convened another meeting specifically to address these concerns,, but also to break the news of an exciting initiative by project managers who have formed a venture with Investec bank to undertake a radical redevelopment of Muizenberg, in a Public/Private partnership with Council.

Discussions have only just begun, and the developers have yet to produce even a first concept; but bearing in mind the strength of local opinion, they have been careful to involve the community from the outset.

Make no mistake, this will be a huge project. The project management team were responsible for building Sun City, so that will give some idea of scale. The team drew comparisons with Miami or Tel Aviv, but believe that given Muizenberg’s natural assets, the project has the potential to outstrip both places.

Several City officials explained the various planning timescales, and the procedures to be followed to ensure conformity with both local and citywide structure plans, both of which have yet to be finalised. Realistically there would appear to be at least a 2 year lead time before plans are available, but the community will be involved throughout.

The team was asked for details of what they had in mind, ie. residential, retail, or leisure development, but would not be drawn, other than to say that commercial viability would determine the mix.

The cynics among us will respond that we have heard it all before. Even the latest proposals from Chittenden Nicks (about 3 years ago) never went beyond a draft report, and were never formally considered by the City Council.

There are obvious implications for the infrastructure in the area: the constraints imposed by our congested roads, the vulnerability of the railway to the predicted sea-level rise, and the inadequacy of available parking. All of these concerns will be addressed in due course. A clue was dropped that the area between Beach Rd and the Pavilion, together with the high-level promenade, will possibly form the hub of future development, with extensive underground parking provided. The team sees a revitalised Muizenberg in the same light as the V&A Waterfront.

Perhaps the original Anglo-America plans for a Yacht basin and Golf Course were not so far-fetched after all, and Muizenberg Pier will become a reality.

Marina da Gama as the largest coherent community in Muizenberg, will have a vital interest in developments on our doorstep. Finally, as forecast in the April newsletter, Excom has decided to streamline the format of its monthly minutes, so that they may be available to members. Any member may pick up a copy at the office.

The first new-style minutes, for May 2008, as confirmed at the June meeting, are ready for publication.

Peter Harrison
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